Both houses of Congress have signed off on a temporary fix to the nation’s highway funding bill, with the House sending the bill to the President’s desk where Obama is expected to sign it.
The Senate bill was approved in a voice vote Saturday following a House vote last week. Funding for the Highway Trust Fund is due to expire at the end of this month.
This marks the 33rd time in six years that Congress has pushed back permanent action on a funding bill for the nation’s failing infrastructure and transportation programs. The uncertainty over funding has prompted several states to reject or delay highway construction projects that rely on federal funds.
The Associated Press said the trust fund relies on revenue from a federal 18.4 cents per gallon tax and a 24.4 cents per gallon diesel tax. However, those fuel taxes haven’t been raised since 1993. And since raising taxes makes lawmakers queasy, the funding issue has been kicked down the road since 2008.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed spending $478 billion over six years on transportation, which would be a 45 percent increase over current spending levels. It suggested the gap between fuel taxes and increased spending on highway projects could be made up with a 14 percent tax on earnings U.S. corporations have banked offshore.
Other Congressional proposals include:
- Indexing fuel taxes to rise with inflation
- Taxing foreign earnings of U.S. companies, but at a lower 8.75 percent
- Increasing gas and diesel taxes 5 cents a year for three years, then schedule future increases to inflation.